In Italy’s South Tyrol, German Trail Signs Cause Controversy

The Italian province of South Tyrol has always been a land apart. Originally part of Austria-Hungary, the province only became part of Italy in 1919, after World War I ended.

Since then, the inhabitants, most of whom speak a dialect of German, have often been made to feel that they don’t “fit in” in their own country. For example, when the Fascists ruled Italy, the government made a concerted effort to ban public use of the German language in the region, and to encourage Italian speakers to immigrate and “crowd out” South Tyrol’s original inhabitants. Things got better after the end of World War II, when strong protections for German language speakers were made law and the province was granted a large degree of autonomy. Read more

Wedding Traditions from Around the World

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re well aware of the fact that the Royal Wedding was this past Friday. Millions of people around the world tuned in to watch the traditional “white wedding,” and what a beautiful ceremony it was! But that’s not the only way to get married, by any means. In honor of the happy couple, let’s take a look at some of the more interesting traditions surrounding marriage in different parts of the world:

Show Me the Money

Starting a new life together is expensive. In some countries, wedding guests are expected to give the happy couple the most practical gift of all: Cold, hard cash. For example, in many parts of Greece, it is traditional for guests to pin money to the bride’s dress as she dances during the wedding reception. Interestingly, this also a tradition in some parts of the Philippines. In Southern Italy, wedding guests are expected to hand the newlyweds envelopes of cash as they exit the reception in exchange for a wedding favor. Read more

British Travelers Don’t Speak the Language

When you travel to another country, it’s considered common courtesy to try to learn at least a little bit of the local language. But according to a new survey from travel insurance company Sheila’s Wheels, it’s a courtesy that Brits generally neglect.

According to a writeup of the study in the Daily Mail, out of 3,000 people who planned to go on holiday outside the country, 51 percent said they “rarely” took the time to learn how to say anything in the local language before taking off.  Based on the results of the survey, it seems that the average Brit knows six words or phrases in Spanish, ten in French and three in Italian. Read more

Crude Translation on Australian Vanity Plates

Kristen Perry, an Australian woman, has gone by the nickname “Kiki” since she was a baby.  One day about 5 years ago, her thoughtful husband surprised her with vanity plates featuring the nickname. They seemed like a perfect accessory for her Porsche.

Unfortunately, the New South Wales Roads and Traffic Authority disagreed, after it received a complaint from another motorist advising that the word “Kiki” translates into “vagina” in the Tagalog language of the Philippines.

The RTA responded to the complaint by sending a “please explain” letter, threatening to take Mrs. Perry’s plates away if she couldn’t show she had a good reason for choosing them. She told the Telegraph:

“At first I thought it was a joke, but then I realised it was actually quite serious and that my number plates would be taken off me if I didn’t respond appropriately.”

Read more

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